What’s A Brand Personality?

Published: 31st March 2015

And Why The Heck Do You Need One?Brand Personality Pic

Have you ever met someone who, for some reason, made you start yawning? A few minutes into the conversation you found yourself zoning out, checking your watch, wanting to order an espresso (in a bucket) just to make it to the end of the interaction?

Why is it that when you get around certain people you feel dull and listless (pardon the shampoo commercial adjectives) while others make you feel alive and energised?

It’s not that much of a mystery.

It’s likely that the person that makes you feel disinterested just doesn’t have that much personality. Or maybe their personality is so obscured by useless drivel, that you can’t access the true character lying behind it.

Typically, these people go on and on and on about something that has no emotional or intellectual connection for you.  Maybe they like chatting about, say, hibiscus tea. But unless you also have a direct interest in hibiscus tea, why would you care? They’ll need to make their hibiscus hobby sound really interesting to keep you engaged. Maybe if they say “Hibiscus tea can stop you from going grey.” you’ll be interested. Otherwise, you’re likely to completely switch off and make up a story just to get out of there. “I really must dash. I’ve got the latest Magnamail catalogue at home and it’s not going to read itself.”   

In a way, brands are the same.

Some brands make you feel kind of bored, while others turn on the switch and keep you engaged.

Just for a second, let’s examine the kinds of things that may make a person interesting and cool to be around. This is not a definitive list, so feel free to make up your own.

  • A good story teller.
  • A sense of humour.
  • The capacity to have fun and not take themselves too seriously.
  • An understanding of who they are, where they’re from, and where they’re going. (Even if they don’t know exactly where they’re going, they’re open about this and are willing to learn).
  • Honest, transparent, reliable.
  • Makes mistakes – human – vulnerable. (A person can be so much more interesting when they make mistakes and admit to them).
  • An open, curious mind – the ability to self-reflect.
  • Original – not swayed by the “crowd” or popular opinion.
  • A great frock, suit or shoes. (Smiley Face)

Investopia says this about brand personalities:

“A brand personality is something to which the consumer can relate, and an effective brand will increase its brand equity by having a consistent set of traits. This is the added-value that a brand gains, aside from its functional benefits…customers are more likely to purchase a brand if its personality is similar to their own.”

All brands, by default, have a “personality” but the question is, of course, is it a good, well thought out one? Have you developed and nurtured it or has it been thrust upon you?

The saying, “A brand is what others say about you when you’re not in the room.” remains as true as ever.

You should ask yourself, is my brand:

  • Interesting?
  • Clear?
  • Packaged, presented and communicated well?
  • Speaking in a tone of voice that makes sense to my target audience?

Once you’ve identified your brand personality, then comes the ongoing work of ensuring that every element of your brand is consistent with it. This includes your graphic design, your copywriting, presentation, all the interactions you have with your customers, co-workers, suppliers, and in some respects, even the person you sit down next to on the train…

Now, as a little exercise make a little list of the things that sum up your brand personality. Do this without thinking about it too much:

Here’s some of ours (as said by us and about us via testimonies, emails, and face-to-face)

  • Quirky
  • Left of Centre
  • Approachable
  • Clever
  • Witty
  • Fun
  • Warm
  • Old-School
  • Professional
  • Stylish
  • Generous
  • Friendly

It’s a pretty flattering list, but why the hell not? Why project a personality you don’t want to have? Furthermore, a personality should be inspirational as well as aspirational. Giving you something to constantly grow into.

Next question to ask yourself:

Is my brand (product/service, logo, graphic design, website, marketing, interactions etc.) enacting these characteristics?

By putting it out there in black and white, we can definitely see ways in which we can more effectively align what we say with what we do.  How about you? In what ways can you bring your vision and mission closer together with the reality of how your brand is performing?

We also had a bit of think about some local and national brands that we like and are loyal to:

  • Dangerfield
  • Status Anxiety
  • Leo and Spargo
  • Studio Bomba
  • Delish Ice/Hemmingway Traveling Speak Easy.
  • Elk
  • frankie Magazine
  • The Corner Store
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Pigeonhole
  • Rifle Paper Co.
  • Country Road
  • Witchery

You’ll notice that they all seem to reflect our own values and lifestyle in some way — further reinforcing our main point of why it’s important to have a clear brand personality.

So, to sum up, a good brand personality is necessary so that you can:

  • Avoid putting your customers to sleep.
  • Distinguish your brand from the competition.
  • Allow consumers to connect with your business because it reflects their own values and lifestyle choices.
  • Be something to someone and not everything to everyone (niche yourself).

Every business has a personality, and it’s that personality that will either dazzle your audience or bore the pants off them. So let your brand speak – but make sure it has something authentic and interesting to say.